John doesn’t belong here. He didn’t want to fight in the Great War in the first place then he was ripped out of battle and dumped in an alien land filled with soldiers from every era of human history. Haunted by the death of his wife and desperate to get back to his son, John joins the rag-tag group of soldiers, who have fourteen days to reach the silver gates.
Danger lurks everywhere and in the most bizarre forms. Sharks in the trees, subterranean wolves and even John’s body turns against him when his hand melts into his machine gun, leaving him crippled and defenceless. His companions change too: the Maori with his plant abilities; the Celt who can run at incredible speeds; the Arab with his ability to read minds.
Struggling with their new abilities, the army cross a scarred plain littered with ancient battles and populated by surviving alien soldiers. To complete their challenge the Humans must win a battle and soon encounter a blue-shelled warrior-race, the Brakari, led by their all-powerful leader, Belsang, and the twisted General Panzicosta.
Allies are made and deals done, but time is running out and battle is imminent.
Each warrior must use their enhanced powers, but will John be able to fight and will the Humans survive?
A shape moved in the branches.
‘Who’s there?’ John shouted.
A naked man covered in paint leapt down. ‘Prohiba!’ he yelled as he landed.
‘Shit!’ John stumbled back.
‘Prohiba homusionem!’ the man’s wild eyes widened and he jabbed a three-pronged spear at John’s chest.
John was too surprised to be scared and his first thought was how lucky he’d just been for a piss or he would have ruined his trousers. The thought tickled him and he smiled.
‘Ego ridiculam?’ the man barked.
Who was this nutter? Probably some local farmer angry with the army for straying onto his land.
‘Sorry mate, I don’t understand you,’ John lifted the machine gun off his shoulder and checked the magazine was locked in. ‘Je na comprend pas.’
‘Quid agis homusionem?’ the farmer barked, hopping from foot to foot in his sandals.
‘Listen, I don’t understand you. I’m just trying to get back… home,’ John shoulders dropped: he’d had enough of all this fighting.
The painted man stared at John and twisted his head in a manner that unnerved him. He had seen it before: a lad in his battalion, Miller, had lost all emotion: no smile; no fear. The next day he bayonetted his commanding officer and was shot running across no-man’s land in his underpants.
‘Don’t you try nothing!’ John lowered his gun.
Milestones are there to remind us we’re on a journey.
They remind us to pause, take stock, look around and make sure we aren’t lost. With that in mind…
‘The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is… 42.’
Today (assuming you're reading this on July 5th) I hit a new milestone – forty-two years old! Yes, yes, I know, I don't look a day over forty-one.
I’m not sure how many analogies I can create for publishing Darwin’s Soldiers?
We’ve had walking the length of Britain, giving birth and a growing a bush in the shape of a spaceship… now I’m imagining a Spitfire taxiing out of a hanger. The engine’s ready to kick into action and the machine guns are loaded. Meanwhile, I’m on my deckchair, pipe in hand and catching some rays while the team give…
Darwin’s Soldiers has hit another milestone!
Unbound Books have drafted the finest minds to work on the novel: whittling, clipping and trimming it like a topiary Millenium Falcon. Names have changed, poems have been deleted and many words have been hyphenated. The copy-edit is complete and it looks ready to fly!
But before we punch the hyperdrive and head off exploring, we have the type-setting…
Team Darwin, today we’ve taken another step closer to seeing Darwin’s Soldiers evolving (get it?) into a real book:
The Structural Edit is complete!
130,000 words of adrenalin-fueled adventure and discovery, told from the point of view of twelve historical characters, will be in your hands in a just few months.
Characters have been renamed and chapters shunted, new scenes written and…
Happy World Book Day everyone! I imagine you are all dressed as hobbits, Victorian gentlewomen or the BFG today? If not, you can borrow one of my costumes when I've finished with them. :)
Can you believe it's been one whole year since the campaign for bringing Darwin's Soldiers started? The Earth is currently in the same point around the Sun as it was when Unbound pushed the button and launched…
In a week when we saw a car blasting through space with the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy guiding it towards the asteroid belt, Darwin’s Soldiers has re-entered the atmosphere and landed on my desk.
(I can hear the cheering across the globe – yeah! Woo-hoo!)
We’re a step closer to seeing the book in paper (or electronic) format, but hold your horses – we’re not there yet! The Editor (Hal…
After our exhilarating trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats, it’s fitting that the Darwin’s Soldiers manuscript finds itself in the hands of one of Scotland’s finest SFF writers and editors, Hal Duncan. As you can see by one of his books below, he is more than welcome in our clan! Fingers crossed he doesn’t cut some of my favourite scenes from Darwin’s Soldiers, including the one with the giant armadillo…
We did it! Darwin’s Soldiers is officially funded!!
Ten months after setting out from Land’s End with our backpacks full off dreams and a spring in our step we have finally arrived in John O’Groats! Let’s pop in the local pub, grab a whiskey and then we can go home for a well-earned rest.
Thank you every single one of you. You made this happen. Thank you for your pledges (and for upgrading…
Merry Christmas you guys!
We’ve reached the heady heights of 95%, which means we only need a handful of supporters to reach our target. With this in mind, I have dusted off the sacred manuscript and I’m currently reading it one last time before handing it over to the Editor… and I must admit *blows own trumpet* it’s a damn good read! I can’t wait to see it in print and for you all to get stuck…
We’ve made it past 90%!
As I type this we are just £2 shy of 92% and only a few hundred pounds from reaching our target. Such a great achievement – thank you one and all!
Seeing as we’ve taken another step closer to publication, here’s another Darwin’s Soldiers excerpt, this time from when we first meet the Tocka.
A group of soldiers have stumbled on a fossil-rich cliff face where Gal-qadan…
Can you believe it’s been nine full months since Darwin’s Soldiers started its intrepid journey of transformation? Like Pinocchio longing to turn into a real boy, my creation is getting ever so closer to becoming a real book and it’s all been down to you. Thanks, you’re all magic!
The plan is to hit 100% before Christmas, so, my army of followers, I call upon you to help once more!
After much deliberation and head scratching, I have finally come up with a suitable name for the group of books which Darwin’s Soldiers will kick off:
The Origin Trilogy
I’m keeping it simple and true to the over-arching plot which binds the three books together. It’s also in keeping with the Darwin and evolution theme, which is developed further in the titles of the following two books:…
We’ve come a long, long way together…
Using my favourite Land’s End to John O’Groats analogy, we’re now at Inverness! Seriously, Scotland is a lot bigger than I had first thought, but we’re nearly there. Just a hop, skip and a jump along the coast and we’ve made it.
Thank you to our newest members! Our crowd has grown in number and there are over 100 of us now. Without your support, Darwin…
If you selected an original acrylic canvas as part of your pledge, you’ll be pleased to know the first canvas has been completed - woo-hoo!
It’s a close up of General Panzicosta, which is view very few people get to experience in Darwin’s Soldiers and those who do tend to come off badly.
You’ll have to be quick if you want to upgrade your pledge as there are only a couple of canvas pledges…
We’ve made steady progress bringing Darwin’s Soldiers to publication so I just wanted to thank each and every one of you. Your generosity (and patience) is greatly appreciated. Next year will mark twenty years since I started writing my first novel so, with your help, we’re nearing the end of a long journey – or is it just the beginning?
As the nights have been drawing in I’ve been busy with…
We’re getting so close to 70% I can almost taste it. And it tastes of tatties and neeps. I’m not sure where we are in Scotland now (it’s far bigger than I thought) but we’d better hurry up before the winter sets in and the natives get hungry.
So we need to keep moving. This is a call to arms - Darwin’s Soldiers need you!
To get to 100% we need to get the last few pledgers on board, so please…
Wow. How time flies… it’s been six whole months since Darwin’s Soldiers flickered into life on the Unbound Books website and we started the journey to publication. In that time, during Earth’s half orbit around the sun, Brian Aldiss and Colin Dexter have passed away, the UK voted blue and North Korea made numerous attempts to start fireworks night early. Someone needs to teach them the rhyme:…
As we venture further north and we avoid the thought that winter is coming, I thought I’d share a song from Darwin’s Soldiers. While the Day Watch rest in a cave behind an immense waterfall, John sees ghostly images of long dead soldiers flickering to life around a Scottish warrior as he sings a lament for home:
I am but a fish spent spawning in this stream,
That carries me, nay, lifts…
Would you believe it? We’ve made it to Scotland! After several months walking across England and straight past Wales because it’s far too hilly, we have crossed the border into Scotland.
Yes, I’m dragging out the Land’s End to John O’Groats metaphor for as long as I can because it’s one of the few things keeping me sane while I promote Darwin’s Soldiers! One step at a time… and we’re getting there…
How is everyone? Enjoying the summer so far?
I thought I would push your excitement levels to the max with a book competition!
I’m offering my personal copies of the four books which influenced Darwin’s Soldiers to anyone who upgrades their pledge during July – or to any new pledgers joining our crew.
The influential books are:
The Art of War – any new pledges for the e-book
The Sun caresses the horizon, swinging low like a fiery kite
Tied to the neck of the Moon as she howls at the lack of night
Spring’s promise are fulfilled, the fruit ripen and swell
The good old days are here again and all is well
Darwin’s Soldiers is over half way to being funded but it feels like the rest of the journey will be uphill!
Keep on the lookout for new pledgers…
I’ve just had an interview posted on the Zealot Script website. It was great fun answering some thought-provoking questions.
Check out the below link and have a browse if you’re interested in all things Sci-fi – lots of interesting stuff on there!
We made it - halfway there!
Going by the Land’s End to John O’Groats analogy we’re about to enter the Lake District, so let’s hope for good weather. Can someone pick up some mint cake along the way?
In the meantime, I’ve been busy finding new members for the journey and drumming up some interesting discussions on Facebook… how about the idea of individuals being able to mutate (and therefore…
Where has the time gone? It’s been almost three months since the gates were opened and the first pledges streamed in for Darwin’s Soldiers. How our band of merry readers has grown since! Warm thanks to all our newest pledgers and generous patrons!
Deadline day approaches and I hope if we reach 50% we will be granted an extension – Darwin’s Soldiers will be published!
In the meantime, and with…
We’re growing in numbers! Hello to all the new members and welcome to the Darwin’s Soldiers clan. Thank you all - I am constantly surprised and humbled by your support and generosity.
It’s been a couple of months since I left John and the surviving characters from Darwin’s Soldiers in their bizarre world and I miss them (spoiler – quite a few die!). I can’t wait to get back in there and work with…
Darwin’s Soldiers is 30% funded! Time to let off some fireworks, drink some ale and dance like a loon! A big thanks to Lynette and the Weekes posse and everyone else who has pledged this month!
Our clan is growing stronger - from Shanghai to Copenhagen, Frating to Felixstowe - support for Darwin’s Soldiers is growing and we’re looking for the 50th pledger to join us on the journey.
Thanks to you all, Darwin’s Soldiers is a quarter of the way to publication!
Going by the Land’s End to John O’Groats analogy we’re in the Midlands now – ancient Mercia. Did anyone bring a metal-detector? Let’s find a hoard! Or maybe we’ll dig up Utred’s sword?
It’s been an interesting journey so far. Like the hobbits leaving Hobbiton, I’m down to one breakfast a day and have nearly run out…
Darwin’s Soldiers is 20% funded! Thank you!
We’re one-fifth of the way along the journey, which means if we’re running from Land’s End to John O’Groats, we’ve just made it to Bath. So, bring on the Midlands!
Please share this page with anyone who would love to have their name in the book, or any writers who would love to see their short story published. (Andy C. I’m looking forward to reading…
Thank you for pledging your support and for your help in bringing Darwin’s Soldiers to publication!
My shed at home has a brass ‘Captain’ plaque on the door and is full of rusty implements, but this shed is a more relaxed affair. Here we have a thick carpet on the floor and well-worn leather chairs to sink into while we chat and I answer your questions. Take your shoes off and relax.
These people are helping to fund Darwin's Soldiers.